Until quite recently, I hadn't been on a bike since I was about 12. It wasn't until I had travelled through Europe flying home via California, that I realised that common bike use wasn't reserved for kids on their BMX's and couriers.
In Europe bikes are leading the way. Barcelona's bicing isn't just a bad Catalonian take on the English word (they also use the bastardisation word 'footing' for running, but that's another story) but it is a movement that is transforming the city. For locals, an annual fee of €30 (approx $42 AUD) allows you unlimited half hour sessions on the bike, with extremely reasonable pricing if you go over the 30 minute time frame. This encourages people to use the bike on short trips as opposed to driving their car, hopping in a cab or using the metro system. You pick up a bike from one station, and drop it off at your destination's station. Perfecto!
In Amsterdam bikes are the king of the streets. You see so many practical and beautiful mutations of bikes catering for shopping, the dog, toddlers, your best friend, your two best friends and a toddler. The options are endless and everyone is doing it. There are more bikes in The Netherlands than people, and people travel on their bikes in their dress, their suits, their high heels. Anything goes.
When I was in Southern California, on a warm summer day, bikes were the best way to get to the beach. Forget driving around in your SUV all day looking for a park in the sweltering car interior, People in their droves can be seen on all kinds of bikes hitting the bars, the beaches, their mates place. The predominant features on these bikes were the high-rise handlebars, big baskets and surfboard racks.
Returning to Sydney in 2008 I was lucky enough to stumble across a beauty of a bike, a 1980's single speed reincarnation complete with matching seat and handlebars and a basket lined with sheepskin. In short: my bike heaven.
While it might take a while, and some guts of steel too, to get on a bike in this city owning a pushbike changed my life. Yes I can get anywhere I want in about 10 minutes, but there is more catalysts to my childlike beaming smile every time I get on the bike.
It is something about the wind being in your hair, cruising down streets, being able to pull up and getting the best parking spot. Anywhere. Anytime. Not paying for cabs, not dealing with public transport, doing the environment good deeds and working those muscles all at the same time are other perks of the ride. There are some negatives that people can pull me up on, but the positives far outweigh these. Sydney is beginning to get in on the embracing of bike riders and there is efforts being made to increase bike rider awareness as well as improve bike paths and facilities. While this won't improve overnight, it will be a slow but positive movement forward.
The staff are as cute and lovely as their beautiful Japanese bikes. This is the first Tokyo Bike store outside of Tokyo and upon visiting and taking a test ride you'll realise that these bikes are where it is at! The bikes couldn't be more attractive, streamline and simple in their design and performance, and Tokyo Bikes have all the bells and whistles (mud guards and baskets) to match. With colours to die for, I want one. (Or Five)
Woolys Wheels This multi-story bike heaven is full of knowledgeable staff, a workshop and a massive selection of all things two-wheel-a-licious. Wooly's staff are friendly and selfless with their time and advice. From cruisers and road bikes to professional mountain bikes, they have bikes for the serious and for the seriously trendy.
In upcoming weeks I'll give you great Sydney tips on where to ride, how to ride and more!